RUSAL, the Russian firm that owns the Aughinish Alumina plant near Askeaton, is not controlled by Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska and he cannot receive any financial benefit from his shareholding.
That’s according to Rusal chief executive Evgeny Nikitin who has warned that any new sanctions similar to those imposed by the US in 2018 will have catastrophic consequences for workers and global markets.
In a letter sent to trade associations last week, Mr Nikitin wrote that considering the experience of 2018 and the current realities such as high energy costs and raw materials shortages, the displacement from the aluminium market of such a key player could lead to “catastrophic consequences for both the European downstream sector and end-users”.
According to a report in the Sunday Independent, there were doubts about Aughinish Alumina’s future four years ago when trade sanctions imposed by the US forced major customers to review their contracts with the company.
This threatened the future of hundreds of jobs in west Limerick, with the Irish government forced to make several interventions during efforts to save the plant.
The alumina extraction plant directly employs 500 workers and supports hundreds of other local jobs in the mid-west.
In his letter, Mr Nikitin pointed out that in response to the 2018 sanctions, the company undertook significant restructuring and ownership changes, which reduced Mr Deripaska ‘s controlling stake in Aughinish.
Mr Deripaska (54), who founded Rusal, is a close associate of Vladimir Putin and has a 49pc stake in Aughinish Alumina. He is currently named on the UK sanctions lists for a freeze on assets, a travel ban and restrictions to business.
Mr Nikitin said the company also agreed to “unprecedented transparency, and an independent management structure”.